March 23, 2020

Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on the FES Industry

Measuring the Impact of COVID-19

We are all experiencing the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which affects the foodservice industry in unique and dramatic ways. While these effects are temporary, they have had a staggering impact on restaurants, with OpenTable now reporting a 100% decline in year-over-year seated diners. According to the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. foodservice industry could sustain $225 billion in losses and eliminate 5-7 million jobs over the next three months if no government action is taken. Industries around the world are similarly working on measuring the impact of COVID-19.

The Foodservice Equipment & Supplies industry will soon feel the upstream effects of this crisis. The question now is how soon we will feel these effects, what the magnitude will be, and how long they will last.

FES Industry Annual Sales and Price Growth in %

FES Industry Annual Sales and Price Growth in %, courtesy of Robin Ashton

As a reference point, the FES industry saw up to 10-15% annual decreases in sales volume during the 2008-2009 crisis. Sales growth rebounded in 2010, but sales took 2-2.5 years to fully recover to previous levels. Pricing was more resilient, and only saw one year of contraction. Employment rates were slower to rebound. But the characteristics of that crisis are unlike that of today's.

The nature of this crisis suggests the impact of COVID-19 may be deeper and (hopefully) shorter-lived. The outcome will largely depend on the ability of foodservice operators and  the FES supply chain to stay liquid and ride things out. In part, this will be determined by the efficacy of government response being negotiated right now. Measuring the impact of COVID-19 will help inform those conversations.

What We Know From AQ's Quoting Activity

In order to promote transparency and data-driven decision making, today we are launching a web page that will track The State of the Industry while we navigate this crisis together.  Our platform touches the majority of the FES supply chain, and we are sharing our data to give this industry better insight into the effects of COVID-19 in real time. The data we are sharing will provide insight on the impact of Coronavirus on foodservice equipment quoting activity on AQ. While much of this data would typically be proprietary for a technology company, we decided that our commitment to this industry and to our customers merited putting what we have on the table. Our hope is that it contributes to the conversation, and helps in measuring the impact of COVID-19 on FES.

In keeping with AQ's privacy policy, any platform data we share will be aggregated and anonymized. This data will focus initially on our AQ CPQ product. Over time, we may include data from our other products such as AQ Designer and AQ Insight.

AQ's Mission Continues

As always, AQ is committed to Creating Order, Reducing Friction, and Making Connections in this industry. We know that every dollar of efficiency gain for you goes a long way in supporting your business. These savings also trickle down into lower prices for foodservice operators. We are committed to this vision now more than ever.

Is there other data that would help inform your business decisions? Looking for tips on how AQ can improve your business efficiency during these hard times? Please feel free to reach out to me directly at for questions and feedback.

David Demres - VP Marketing & Strategic Development

David is passionate about building extraordinary organizations focused on people and empowerment. At AQ, he pursues game-changing partnerships and communicates AQ’s vision to our industry and the world. Prior to AQ, David was responsible for new markets expansion and partnerships for Light Wave Dental, a market-leading Dental Service Organization. He has previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group and Yale University, in addition to a career as a triathlete. David earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, an MPA from Harvard, and a B.A. from Yale, where he ran Track and Cross Country. Personally, David is lover of all things health and fitness related, as well as a casual dining enthusiast.

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